The Adventures of Pelle No-Tail by Gösta Knutsson, translated by Stephanie Smee and Ann-Margrete Smee

Reviewed by Allison Paterson (

The Adventures of Pelle No-Tail is a delightful and timeless story of a good-natured, anthropomorphic tabby cat who lost his tail as a kitten when it was bitten off by a nasty rat! Previously a farm cat, Pelle now lives in the city after becoming an accidental stowaway in the Svanslös family car. He finds new friends and has many exciting adventures as he explores his new home and shares in the daily routines and holidays of his adoptive family. Pelle is regarded as a hero after he saves the family from a kitchen fire and is duly awarded with a medal. Unfortunately, the resilient and forgiving young cat becomes a victim of bullying at the paws of a nasty tomcat called Måns and his gang of mindless feline followers.

The Adventures of Pelle No-Tail was published in Sweden in 1939 and was the first of thirteen stories written about Pelle. The much-loved books were followed by comics, films, plays, music and television programs. The tale is translated from Swedish by the partnership of Stephanie Smee, who was responsible for the translation of the Fleurville Trilogy, and her Swedish mother Ann-Margrete Smee. The translation maintains Swedish expressions and names and effectively preserves an authenticity to its heritage, including a glimpse at Christmas traditions.

This is a charming tale of resilience, acceptance and friendship. It successfully and gently explores the character qualities needed to overcome bullying and adapt to change. I highly recommended The Adventures of Pelle No-Tail for extending and challenging recently independent readers or to enjoy as a read aloud for a younger audience.

Shamini Murugan